Cities, towns prepare for same-sex marriage in RI

Everything appears to be on track for the first same-sex marriages in Rhode Island to take place Aug. 1.

Instead of "bride" and "groom," the new form for a License and Certificate of Marriage reads "Partner A" and "Partner B."

With the forms in place, the state is working with clerks in cities and towns to help on the procedural end of same-sex marriages.

There have been plenty of questions, and a workshop is scheduled for June.

"It's great that we had ample time to prepare for this. Giving us the Aug. 1 deadline was wonderful," state clerk Colleen Fontana said.

Local municipalities agree.

"As president of the association, I'm gathering all of the questions from the clerks," said Richard Goldstein, of the Rhode Island Town and City Clerk's Association.

Goldstein said he's taking those questions to the state for further clarification so they can best serve same-sex couples.

How many applications for same-sex marriage do some cities expect to receive?

"It's the same thing with civil unions. We had no idea coming in. I'm sure we'll have more because this is what people have been waiting for," Goldstein said.

Between 2011 and now, there have only been 86 civil unions in Rhode Island. Those unions can be merged into a marriage at no cost. For others, the fee for a marriage license is $24.

The West Valley Inn, a popular spot for weddings, usually hosts 10 to 12 a weekend. But that number has been cut in half this year because of the economy, and the owner said there have not yet been any requests for same-sex weddings.

The head of the clerk's association said the organization feels prepared and that he doesn't think it will cost local municipalities anything other than filing time to process same-sex marriages.